Friday, December 4, 2015

Dig A Ditch

Nehemiah 1:1-4

“The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.
It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan[a] the citadel,  2 that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.  3 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”

I believe that Nehemiah represents a type of the Holy Spirit, the actual meaning of his name is comforter.  In this portion of scripture Nehemiah is grieved that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down. Nehemiah has come to restore the walls.
The wall represents the standard, the power, the strength, the character, the integrity of the church.  Traditionally walls do two things:  First they keep things safe inside, and second they keep things out.  A wall is meant to preserve, keep safe, and keep the appropriate things in and it is also designed to protect, and to keep bad things, or inappropriate things out.
There is no question, in my mind and there should be no doubt in yours as you read it, that Nehemiah is a book about revival, about restoration, and about bringing back the glory of God to the church.  It starts with an honest assessment of the brokenness and despair of a people who have lost faith.  They have given up any hope of change and have accepted their condition as terminal.
I am writing this message today to some people who need to hear this:  You've been looking at some situations in your lives that have been labeled terminal.  The doctor has told you that your condition is terminal, the lawyer has told you that your circumstances are terminal, the banker had told you that your finances are terminal, the devil is telling your sin has rendered your spiritual life terminal, and even your family and friends are acting like its terminal. 
You're looking at the rubble of a wall that once protected and preserved and it appears to be beyond repair.  You can’t picture how God is going to repair your marriage, you can't see how God will heal you of that disease, you can't imagine how you're going to get out of debt, you can't envision how your ministry could ever be restored, and all you can see is the impossibility of the addictions that you have allowed to enslave your life.
There were some people in the Bible that were in the same situation.  They were in the wilderness and they were dying of thirst so the Prophet told them to dig some ditches.
2 Kings 3:16-20
And he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’  17 For thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.’  18 And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.  19 Also you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall cut down every good tree, and stop up every spring of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones.” 

20 Now it happened in the morning, when the grain offering was offered, that suddenly water came by way of Edom, and the land was filled with water.
The Prophet told them: You won't see wind or rain yet that Valley will be filled with water.  When they woke up the next morning, as the grain offering was being made, water came by the way of Edom and the country was filled with water and every ditch was filled with water. 
I know right now your situation seems impossible.  It’s been a while since the rain has fallen in your life and you can’t remember that last time the wind blew.  In your flesh your situation seems terminal, you can't see how your circumstances will ever be changed, but I am telling you God is sending the water.  The water may for your healing, it may be deliverance for your prodigals, restoration for your marriage, a breakthrough in your finances, or it may be the end to a spiritual drought.  I don’t know what the water will mean to your life, but I know that it’s coming.
Healing power is on the way, a miracle is on the way, your deliverer is on the way, your Nehemiah is coming, the Holy Ghost is coming, and He has your answer!
So don't accept the evil report of those who lack faith, don't accept the report of your own senses, but believe God’s report and dig a ditch!
Believe God's report and begin to praise him right now in the middle of your desert, in the middle of your fiery furnace, in the midst of your lion’s den, in the midst of your pain, and in the face of that bad report.  Your life may be surrounded by broken pieces, surrounded by voices of hopelessness and despair.  It doesn’t matter!  Dig a ditch!
The devil would have us believe that our situation is terminal, he would have us believe that we can never be healed, that your marriage can never be restored, that your prodigals will never come home, that this nation is doomed, that we are beyond help, that we have passed the point of no return, that evil has triumphed, and that false religion, homosexuality, lust, perversion, and idolatry have won.
He would have us to believe that are preaching is in vain, that the preaching of the cross and the blood of Jesus as the only remedy for sin, and that holiness and purity and truth and sanctification are all messages that are outdated and powerless now.  But the devil is a liar.
It's not hopeless and it’s not useless, and there is no expiration date on the blood of Jesus and the message of the cross.  The gospel is still the power of God to save all who believe.  The preaching of the cross is still as powerful as ever, and the power of the Holy Ghost still sanctifies and delivers and gives us power over sin.  God is still sends revival wherever the gospel is preached, believed, and acted on.
I want to encourage somebody today.  Your labor in the Lord is not in vain!  Keep preaching the cross! Keep preaching the blood of Jesus!  Keep preaching holiness!  Keep preaching righteousness and sanctification!  Keep rebuking the enemy and casting out devils and healing the sick in Jesus’ name!  Don't compromise!  Lift the standard high and your work will be rewarded!
We can see revival, we can have a mighty move of God, the wall can be rebuilt, but it's going to take some work on our part.  Revival is not a random act of grace that falls unsuspectingly on random people from time to time as the Lord sovereignly chooses.  Revival is the fruit of the cooperative effort of the Spirit of God and the people of God.  So dig a ditch and offer the sacrifice of praise!
Revival is not an accident, it begins with the desire for change.  It begins when we are able to see and admit what we have lost, what's been broken down, and we choose to no longer accept it as normal.  Sin is not normal, sexual immorality, divorce, sickness, and idolatry are not normal.  Revival is God's people praying, fasting, sacrificing, laying aside fleshly carnal pursuits, repenting, turning from our wicked ways, crying out to God and God answering them.  Stop sulking, start digging, and start praising God!
We can have revival whenever and wherever we are willing to pay the price and do the work.  It begins with every child of God rebuilding the wall in their own hearts, the wall of honesty and integrity truth and righteousness.  Start digging a ditch, present your living sacrifice to God, and God will send the water!
Nehemiah 4:1-3
“But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews.  2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”
Sanballat was saying was, the stones are trash and they're not good for anything.
When I read that, something stirred inside of me because I could hear the devil talking.  Through his words, I could hear him saying to so many people: you're no good, you've been burned, you're all messed up, you're broken, you're a drunk, you’re a drug addict, you're a homosexual, you cheated on your wife, you failed the ministry, you're a nobody, you're rubbish, you're trash, you're good for nothing, nobody wants you, you’re burned up and your situation is terminal.
But I can hear another voice speaking: the voice of Nehemiah the voice of the Holy Spirit saying: I want these old burnt stones.  I want those stones piled up in the trash over there, the ones everybody threw away, the rejected ones, the broken ones, and the ones that don't fit.  I want the burned stones, the ones who carry the scars of their abuse, the ones with needle tracks, the ones who have been rejected by religion, the outcasts of society, the lepers, and I want the untouchables.

I'm going to do exactly what you said I couldn't do, I'm going to take these old burnt stones and I'm going to make a new wall with them.
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that God uses old burnt Stones.  Excuse me please, I’ve got a ditch to dig!

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